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194 of the best photography tips from professional photographers

Discover some of the best tips for portraits, weddings, landscapes and commercial photography from people who make a living shooting them

121. Lens hood flare control

Image: Mark Bauer

Direct light hitting the front element of your lens can bounce around through the lens and onto the sensor, lowering image contrast or worse, creating unwanted flare marks. Putting on your lens hood is an easy habit to get into and it saves problems like this! 

122. Contrast emphasises your subject

When processing your files to make your subject more prominent in the frame, don’t only use exposure to make subjects lighter or darker – consider using contrast. Increasing the contrast of your subject will bring it forward, decreasing the contrast of your background. 

123. Grey card colour correction 

How do you always ensure correct colour balance? Whether indoors or outdoors, shoot a grey card or a set of colour patches (like the Datacolor SpyderCheckr) in a test shot. Take one for each different lighting condition, then use it in post-production. 

124. Pinch blacks for impact

Photographs can look more powerful if they have a base of solid black. Achieve this by ‘clipping’ the black point or use the Blacks slider in Lightroom. 

125. Consider backpack choice

It’s wet, muddy and you need to put your backpack down to get your camera out. You need a design like the Lowepro Whistler that opens on the inside, so mud doesn’t dirty your jacket when you put the pack back on. 

126. Warm foreground, cool background

Introduce depth into an image by using colour theory: warm colours approach, cool colours recede, so warm up your foreground or subject so it stands out against a cooler or bluer background. 

127. Geared heads for control

Are you frustrated every time you release your ball head to adjust the camera position, because it moves too far and is difficult to fine-tune? A geared tripod head is the solution – like the Arca Swiss D4. Minor adjustments are very easy to achieve. 

128. Grey card in editing 

Remember that grey card you photographed to determine correct colour? Using the white balance colour picker, click on a mid-grey square to set correct colour and apply the same settings to all the other shots. 

129. Capture One vs Lightroom

Not all Raw processing is the same. 

Read more: 63 free Lightroom presets

Different processors deal with colour, contrast and tonality differently, so if you currently use Lightroom or ACR, check out Capture One and other Raw processors as well. 

130. Auto ISO = easy life 

Travel photographers shoot under a wide variety of lighting conditions and the Auto ISO feature on modern cameras is a huge help in ensuring your shutter speeds are sufficiently fast at all times. 

131. Choose spiked tripod legs

High-pixel camera images are more likely to suffer from visible camera shake, even when on a tripod. Rather than using the normal rubber feet (above), consider steel spikes which can be driven into the ground for a much more stable platform. 

132. Watch your histogram’s highlights 

We are more forgiving of black shadows than we are of white, detail-less highlights.

Read more: Cheat sheet – How to read a histogram

To help ensure that your files have enough detail in the highlights, keep an eye on your camera’s histogram, making sure it is close to but not touching the right side of the graph. 

133. Keep your kit in the cabin

When travelling by air, take a full camera kit with you in the cabin so if your checked luggage doesn’t arrive, you can still shoot. 

134. Lenses for beautiful bokeh 

‘Bokeh’ is the out-of-focus areas in front of and behind your sharply focused subject. It is the result of shallow depth of field and you get the shallowest depth of field using lenses with a very wide maximum aperture – like f/1.8, f/1.4, f/1.2 or f/1.0. The best news is that 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.8 lenses are very affordable! 

135. Why f/22 is no good

When light passes through very small apertures, like f/22 and smaller, it can bend or interfere with itself, resulting in blurred images. This is called diffraction. 

136. Shoot wider, crop later

Some experts recommend cropping your subject in the viewfinder as you take your photograph, but not every image works best with a 3:2 or 3:4 ratio rectangle. 

Read more: 6 ways to improve your composition

Take a step back, shoot a slightly wider scene and then take some time to consider the best framing and cropping for your image during post processing. 

137. Know your sharpest aperture

If you want big prints with optimum sharpness from corner to corner, determine the sharpest aperture for your lens. You can work this out by taking a series of photos at different apertures and comparing. 

138. Beware nasty Clarity!

One of the great discoveries for photographers editing their photos is the Clarity slider.

Read more: Crash course – Adobe Lightroom for complete beginners

Images can have a beautiful sense of sharpness and detail added to them, but push the slider too far and you can end up with unwanted haloes around your subject, especially when your subject sits against a light background. 

139. Shower caps for protection

Is it theft to take a shower cap from your hotel room if you don’t use it there? If it isn’t, they actually make great rain protectors for your camera! 

140. Use a polariser for reflections 

While polarising filters are problematic with skies, they are incredibly useful for controlling reflections on water (either enhancing them or minimising them). 

Read more: How to use a polariser 

They're also great on wet days for reducing specular highlights on foliage.

All words: Peter Eastway

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